|Friday 03 May 2019 @ 09:00pm : -
Bayou Seco is the husband-and-wife team of Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie. They have collected music from older traditional American musicians for most of their lives and have learned to play many of these tunes and songs. They have especially focused on Cajun music in SW Louisiana and, since 1980 have learned from traditional Hispanic, Cowboy, and Tohono O'Odham musicians in New Mexico and Arizona. They both play fiddle and guitar and sing. Ken also plays one and three row diatonic accordions, 5-string banjo (fretless and freted), harmonica, and mandolin. They play concerts, dances (where we can teach Spanish Colonial dances from New Mexico and other dances), Art Centers, Schools, Museums, Folk Clubs, Weddings, Wakes, State Fairs and other types of events.
They have just won the New Mexico Governor's award for Excellence in the Arts for 2017.
Twenty years is a long time for anything but in the case of New Mexico's Bayou Seco, it seems bewildering that two decades have indeed flown by. Led by the husband-and-wife team of Ken Keppeler and Jeanie McLerie, the Cajun-Centric/New Mexican music group has traveled down many a dirt road to learn the indigenous music of their locale. The couple became proficient in Cajun-Creole music while residing in Louisiana, playing with such masters as Dennis McGee, Canray Fontenot, "Bois Sec" Ardoin and others. When it was time to leave, they did, putting down stakes in the Land of Enchantment and subsequently absorbing the traditions of violinista Cleofes Ortiz, guitarist/accordionist Antonia Apodaca and Native American Tohono O'odham fiddler Elliot Johnson.
20 Years Happy in The Bewilderness is a beautifully, ecologically-packaged 21-track disc that commemorates their first 20 years together and like their 'spiritual millionaire' career, this one too is rendered with a novel approach. Instead of featuring cuts from currently available recordings, Bayou Seco opts for out-of-print studio selections, live gigs and radio shows for a loose, uninhibited feel. Over the years, 26 musicians have embraced the Bayou Seco family, playing everything from traditional Cajun, original Cajun, greasy garage band zydeco, hypnotic Hungarian to Tohono O'odham tunes, folksy numbers, French Canadian, zyde-Calypso and of course, aboriginal New Mexican usic. Overall, it's a dense listen with aural treats abounding throughout. Their C-Z selections are often rawer than the bayou thing itself with clashing accordion squeals, wild fiddling and hard chugging rhythms. Equally enrapturing are the interpretations of "Valse de Jose Y Raphaelita," an Apodaca staple, "El Quelite," a New Mexican accordion-led classic, and "Una Noche Serena Y Obscura," a live Ortiz-McLerie fiddle performance from the Port Townsend Fiddle Tunes festival.
Home on the Great Divide symbolizes many things such as McLerie and Keppeler's abode that's only a only a mile away from the geographical formation that extends from Western Canada to South America. It also symbolizes how nothing can separate the couple's multi-culturalism that's comparable in size to the Great Divide. Here, they indoctrinate their latest member, Appalachian transplant, guitarist/violinist Mark Mueller into the Bayou Seco ideology. While there are tunes from Cajun fiddler McGee, NM fiddler Ortiz and accordionist Apodaca, there are also four pristinely rendered Elliot Johnson tunes whom McLerie and Keppeler have been instrumental in keeping the Tono O'odham fiddler's legacy alive and burning. Another prevailing theme here is a western one with selections attributed to Jack Thorpe who published the first collection of cowboy songs. As expected with any Bayou Seco outing, there's guaranteed to be surprises along the way and this one's no exception. "Polka de Gascogne" is a polka hailing from Southwestern France cast here in a southwestern motif while elsewhere Keppeler occasionally tosses in clawhammer banjo for a startling old-time effect. Whoever coined the terms 'roots music' must have had the uncanny Bayou Seco in mind.
- Dan Willging, Denver, CO, from the June/July Issue of Dirty Linen Magazine
"The common element of their music is the sheer happiness each song projects." ~ Steve Terrell, SANTA FE REPORTER
"When they spin out their tunes, magically a time is conjured up when people instinctively got up and danced because they were moved to, because it felt good, not because it was some kind of bizarre bar room mating ritual...There is something instantly recognizable in the songs of BAYOU SECO. It's as if you can hear the foundation that modern music is built upon, singing from underneath." ~ Dan Hyatt, ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
"Bayou Seco emphasizes the rich cross cultural nature of music in general - a little from here, a touch from there... Divergent musical styles, so well cross-pollinated, they have become hybrids." ~ Gene Armstrong, ARIZONA DAILY STAR